Sep 12, 2009, 12:28 GMT
Harare - In a departure from his usually defiant tone towards Western
powers, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe extended a warm welcome Saturday
to the first senior European Union delegation to visit the country in seven
'We welcome you with open arms. We hope our talks will be fruitful with a
positive outcome,' Mugabe said before entering talks with EU commissioner
for development and humanitarian aid Karel de Gucht, Swedish International
Development Cooperation Minister Gunilla Carlsson and a representative from
Spain, which takes over the EU presidency next year from Sweden.
The EU officials were arriving from South Africa, where they attended an
EU-South Africa summit on Friday near Cape Town.
In Cape Town, de Gucht had defended the EU's targeted sanctions against
Zimbabwe in the face of calls from Zimbabwe's southern African neighbours
for the sanctions to be lifted.
In 2002, the EU slapped travel bans and asset freezes on Mugabe and scores
of members of his inner circle. De Gucht insisted the general population was
not adversely affected.
The EU and the US have said they will not remove the restrictive measures
until seeing signs of greater reform in Zimbabwe.
A seven-month coalition headed by Mugabe and former opposition leader, Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, has managed to stabilize the economy but
Mugabe's opponents, including members of parliament from Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), continued to be harassed.
On the eve of the EU visit, Mugabe had been in typically defiant form,
referring to British and Americans as 'bloody whites' who wanted to 'poke
their nose into our own affairs' and refusing to halt controversial white
On Sunday, the EU troika will meet Tsvangirai in the second city of
(HARARE) - Swedish Development Minister Gunilla Carlsson said the dropping
of targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe had not been
discussed in talks here Saturday.
"We didn't discuss that. This was not a negotiation time," she said
following the meeting between Mugabe and a high-level European Union
The meeting, aimed at easing diplomatic tensions, focused on the troubled
implementation of a fragile unity deal between Mugabe and former political
rival Morgan Tsvangirai who joined an inclusive government in February.
The EU and the United States imposed sanctions on Mugabe and his inner
circle following a disputed presidential poll in 2002, which Western nations
as well as independent local poll monitors described as flawed.
Saturday 12 September 2009
The first meeting in seven years between an EU delegation and Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe has seen progress made and the establishment of "a
good rapport". However, many problematic issues remain outstanding.
AFP - A high-level EU delegation said progress had been made during talks in
Zimbabwe Saturday with President Robert Mugabe, who said he had established
a good rapport with the team from the European bloc.
"I think we should acknowledge that there is progress made here but there
are still several problems outstanding and we discusseed those with the
president in a very open atmosphere," European Union Development
Commissioner Karel de Gucht said.
The first talks between the EU and Zimbabwe ended with Mugabe saying there
had been no animosity and the parties "established good rapport".
The meeting, aimed at easing diplomatic tensions, focused on the troubled
implementation of a fragile unity deal between Mugabe and former political
rival Morgan Tsvangirai who joined an inclusive government in February.
12 September 2009,
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said that
he discussed the international sanctions on President Robert Mugabe during
his talks Saturday with a visiting EU delegation.
Tsvangirai told reporters after the talks in Zimbabwe's second city of
Bulawayo that the sanctions would be one of the topics that would be
included in a recently-launched dialogue with the European Union.
'Yes, the issue came up,' Tsvangirai said when asked about the sanctions.
'We said there is an EU-Zimbabwe dialogue. I'm sure it will be tabled within
that bilateral dialogue.'
But he said the talks focused on issues of political reforms that the
European Union wants Zimbabwe to make before offering direct financial aid
to the government or lifting a travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe and his
'There are issues of reforms, such as constitutional reforms... the issue of
media, that are necessary,' Tsvangirai said.
Harare, September 12, 2009 - The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on
Saturday barred the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) from hold a
meeting to commemorate the arrests and severe beatings of their members
following street protests held on September 13 2006.
The meeting was supposed to have been held at Machipisa Shopping
Centre in Highfield but the police told ZCTU leaders that they could not go
ahead with the meeting.
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) Chairperson, Lovemore Madhuku,
who was had gone to attend the meeting in Highfield told Radio VOP that
heavily armed police officers blocked the venue of the meeting.
"The meeting was supposed to be a commemoration of the brutality that
was meted out to ZCTU leaders in 2006 and it has become an annual event . It
was supposed to start with a small march at the Highfield Hall and then
culminate with brief speeches," said Madhuku.
"About 20 police officers blocked the venue and told us that the
meeting was not authorised. This only shows that there is no change in
Zimbabwe as some people would want us to believe."
There were fears that the ZCTU leadership were arrested at the weekend
event as their phones went unanswered.
ZCTU leaders and about 400 members of the labour group members were
arrested and severely tortured while in custody on September 13 2006.
A three-member team of International Labour Organisation (ILO) lawyers
were in Zimbabwe last month to carry out investigations into the alleged
torture of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) leaders.
Several ZCTU leaders and activists incurred serious injuries including
broken limbs while others are said have suffered some permanent
Police however denied assaulting or torturing the ZCTU officials,
insisting that the unionists were injured after they tried to jump off a
moving police truck.
But lawyers representing the union leaders alleged at the time that
their clients were tortured while in police detention at the notorious
Matapi Police Station in Mbare.
Torture and other forms of inhuman punishment are illegal in Zimbabwe.
Western governments and local human rights groups condemned the
torture of the ZCTU activists but President Robert Mugabe publicly backed
the police for ill-treating the unionists who he accused of plotting to
topple his government.
An ILO delegation visited the country early this year to access the
situation of workers' rights in Zimbabwe and urged the country to adhere to
the international statutes on workers' rights.
A report on Zimbabwe is to be presented at an ILO meeting in Geneva,
Switzerland later this year. The report will encompass the findings of the
three-man ILO investigating team.
MWENEZI, September 12, 2009- About 20 000 families in Nuanetsi Range
who are to be displaced to pave way for business mogul Billy Rutenbech's
multibillion dollar bio-diesel project, should be part of the business
venture, according to a top government officer.
"There must be empowerment of the local people by the investor; we
specifically want ZBE (Zimbabwe Bio-Energy) to value ...growers being
beneficiaries of the land reform programme who have been legally staying in
the ranch," said Masvingo Governor and Resident Minister Titus Maluleke.
"Unless those families are incorporated in the project, then that would be
what we call empowerment. We will not accept a situation where the investor
want to have a lion's share and take all the land to himself without some
form of corporate responsibility."
Rutenbech, through his Zimbabwe Bio-Energy (ZBE) company, has already
cleared part of the 300 000 hectare farm for sugar production and stock
feeds, crop and animal husbandry, crocodile growing, and other bio-fuels.
The company has been insisting that the families, who were legally
settled there in 2002, should be re-located to allow a complete roll-out of
the multi billion dollar investment. But for close to a year now, the
villagers have been resisting eviction, saying they have nowhere else to go.
They also queried why a foreigner would move them off their land.
"This would be a reversal of the land reform program. We did not
invade this place violently, but we were legally resettled here by the
government. So for the state to remove us here again to pave way for another
white man would be like defeating the whole purpose of the programme," said
a villager. "We cannot continue to be victims, we cannot start building
houses, after all, we have nowhere to go. Unless we have something to gain
from the project, like partnerships, then we can allow being moved
Published: September 12, 2009
(HARARE-ZIMBABWE)Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira has been implicated in
the devastating arson attacks that destroyed the home of prominent Mugabe
critic Ben Freeth and his wife Laura at the embattled Mount Carmel farm
Militias deployed at the farm by Shamuyarira had earlier destroyed a house
belonging to Laura's parents Angela and Mike Campbell who fled the farm in
Chegutu district in April following severe beatings by Zanu PF militants.
The Freeths and Campbells became prime targets of Zanu PF attacks after they
scored a victory at the SADC tribunal in Windhoek. The regional court ruled
that Shamuyaira or the government had no right to take over the farm, which
is home to 500 workers.
In a report to the police cited as RRB No.0611384 on Wednesday Laura Freeth
named Shamuyarira's hatchet man Lovemore Madangonda as a chief suspect in
the arson attack. Madangonda has been staying at the farm, claiming to be
the farm manager and demanding the Freeths should leave.
He is accused of having led his gang to plunder crops and equipment worth
millions of dollars prior to the arson attacks.
In a letter to the police officer commanding Mashonaland West Province,
senior assistant commissioner Mushaurwa, Laura said the motive for burning
down the houses was that the militants had looted them of a vast array of
property when they settled themselves in and they wanted to cover up the
"I am requesting a thorough investigation into the cause of the fire due to
the possibility of arson," Laura wrote.
September 12, 2009
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - There were scenes of jubilation and celebration at Harare Central
Prison on Friday as relatives reunited with their loved ones as they were
released freed from prison after serving terms of incarceration.Prison
authorities began releasing hordes of inmates who are beneficiaries of a
recent order of clemency extended to 2 500 convicts by President Robert
While the total number of beneficiaries of the presidential amnesty was
first reported in the state media last week as 1 544, Zimbabwe Prison
Service public relations officer, Elizabeth Banda, told journalists Friday
the actual number of those to be freed was 2 513.
Among those granted amnesty were all women prisoners, inmates serving
three-year terms who had completed a quarter of their sentence, as well as
those in open prisons and life inmates who had served 20 or more years.
The amnesty excluded prisoners jailed for serious crimes including murder,
rape and vehicle hijacking.
Officials say that while Zimbabwe's prison have a holding capacity of 17 000
inmates, the current population is about 13 000.
Elated relatives said they had been living in fear of losing their loved
ones to hunger and disease in Zimbabwe's notorious jails.
Close to 1 000 prisoners are reported to have died in Zimbabwe's jails
between January and June this year.
The death rate is said to have since dropped from three per week to two.
"I cannot believe this. For the past two nights I have not had sleep trying
to contain my happiness. I will never move near a jail again," said a
visibly elated Lovemore Bvuno (63), who was released from Harare Central
prison after serving for 23 years.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1867 for murder
Christopher Munyoro (64), who had served 25 years of a life sentence for the
murder of his employer, said he felt born again.
Munyoro, whose entire family died of hunger and disease while he was in
prison, said he was apologetic to both his victim and family.
Toendepi Mahaso, who volunteered to speak on behalf of a batch of 30 newly
freed prisoners who were paraded for their final briefing by prison
officers, said he was thankful to President Mugabe for the clemency.
"I say thank you very much to the President Robert Gabriel Mugabe," he said,
speaking in English. "I say thank you very much for the clemency.
"Sometimes justice has got to be tampered with mercy. Justice must have a
human face and we have seen the human face of justice today by being
released before our EDR (Expected Date of Release).
"We promise we are going to behave, to do very well out there. This is not
the end of the world. Imprisonment is not the end of life, this is actually
the beginning of a new life. Our old life has been destroyed and we are
given a new lease of life.
"That is what we have received."
The amnesty is an attempt by the current inclusive government to ease
congestion in Zimbabwe's 42 jails.
The jails are now viewed as death camps because of their poor sanitary
conditions and a perennial shortage of food and medical drugs.
The country's prisons did not survive the deadly cholera epidemic which
broke out mid-last year killing 4 000 and living more than 80 000
The epidemic was only contained after the intervention of humanitarian aid
groups which brought medicine and other forms of assistance that helped
suppress the continued spread of the dreaded disease.
by Patricia Mpofu Saturday 12 September 2009
HARARE - Zimbabwe is recalling a judge the government had seconded to the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal, Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa said on Friday.
Former Harare High Court Justice Antoinette Guvava was seconded to the
Tribunal in 2005 by the government. The government now claims it does not
recognise the Tribunal after the regional court ruled against Harare in a
key land case.
"We are in the process of withdrawing her from that Tribunal until the
organisation is properly constituted. At the moment it is not properly
regularised and its powers are supposed to be derived from a treaty ratified
by two thirds of the members," said Chinamasa.
The Tribunal last November dealt a heavy body blow to President Robert
Mugabe's controversial programme to seize white-owned farmland for
redistribution to landless blacks when it ruled that the chaotic and often
violent programme was discriminatory, racist and illegal under the SADC
The regional court ordered Harare not to evict the 78 farmers and that it
pays full compensation to those it had already forced off farms.
Mugabe publicly dismissed the ruling by the Namibia-based Tribunal, while
his followers in the military and in his ZANU PF party defied the court
order by continuing to seize more land from the few white farmers remaining
Government farm seizures which started in 2000 have resulted in the majority
of the about 4 000 white commercial farmers being forcibly ejected from
their properties without being paid compensation for the land, which Mugabe
has refused to pay for saying it was stolen from blacks in the first place.
Land redistribution, that Mugabe says was necessary to correct a "unjust and
immoral" colonial land ownership system that reserved the best land for
whites and banished blacks to poor soils, is blamed for plunging Zimbabwe
into food shortages after Harare failed to support black villagers resettled
on former white farms with inputs to maintain production.
Critics say Mugabe's powerful cronies - and not ordinary peasants -
benefited the most from farm seizures with some of them ending up with as
many as six farms each against the government's stated one-man-one-farm
Poor performance in the mainstay agricultural sector has also had far
reaching consequences as hundreds of thousands of workers have lost jobs
while the manufacturing sector, starved of inputs from the sector, is
operating below 20 percent of capacity. - ZimOnline
September 11, 2009
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - As the MDC turned 10 on Friday, the party said Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai was free to extend his mandate at the 2011 MDC congress as
party president although he has already served two five-year terms.
The 56-year-old former union leader, who has survived assassination
attempts, endured a debilitating treason trial and fought two presidential
elections and two parliamentary elections, is under pressure from critics
that he should pass the baton of leadership to someone else after steering
the MDC ship since the party's launch on September 11, 1999.
A unity government between Tsvangirai and his long-time foe President Mugabe
of Zanu-PF was formed in February after disputed elections last year and has
acted to steer the country back to stability and restore the
hyperinflation-ravaged economy and basic services that collapsed under
Mugabe's three decades of rule.
But the government has been plagued by power struggles over key posts and
claims of continued persecution of Tsvangirai's supporters, with Western
governments so far displaying reluctance to give direct aid without proof of
more positives reforms.
Critics say Tsvangirai should step down since he has now served the
stipulated two terms of office as MDC leader and pave way to new leadership.
They accuse him of suffering from "burn out".
But his supporters believe there should be a special dispensation to extend
his standard two five-year terms as he has become the face of the party and
a symbol of resistance to the Mugabe dictatorship.
At the second MDC congress held in Harare on March 18, 2006, Tsvangirai
promised to hand over power once Zimbabwe was restored to full democracy.
"It has never been my intention to hold on to power after the people have
liberated themselves from this dictatorship," Tsvangirai said then. "My
contract with the people does not extend beyond a certain time-frame.
"A new Zimbabwe, a new beginning has no room for life presidents. My wish is
to execute our mandate in an honest and vigorous manner; preside over a
transition to full democracy and pass on the baton to another Zimbabwean.
"I believe there must be an exciting life for a pensioner - whether that
pensioner is a peasant, former factory cleaner or a former president. I
pledge to honour my word."
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told The Zimbabwe Times in an exclusive
interview on Thursday to mark the party's 10th anniversary that the MDC
president was eligible to stand again as party leader in 2011.
"The (MDC) constitution speaks to the issue of five-year terms without
necessarily speaking to limiting people in terms of their offices," Chamisa
said. "We insist that the terms of office in the party are supposed to be
five years then you go back to the elections.
"But in terms of government, we have said those who should serve government,
they should serve a maximum of two terms. Meaning to say that if someone
gets into office as a president, like President Tsvangirai, he will serve a
maximum of two five year-terms each to have the 10 years as president. It's
the same thing for all the cadres. That is the position that is clear in the
Constitution of the MDC."
Chamisa denied concerns that there was no succession plan in the MDC.
"Those who are stricken by succession problems are the ones who would want
to conjure and manufacture those falsehoods so that they export their own
succession challenges in their own political parties," Chamisa said,
insinuating that claims of a succession crisis in MDC was emanating from
Zanu-PF, itself embroiled in a dog fight over the replacement of the 85-year
old Mugabe, who has ruled since 1980.
"The succession issue is an ailment that has struck some political parties.
But certainly for MDC, that is not a challenge. We have our leadership, we
have our Constitution and we have very clear guidelines on who should lead
"And it comes from the people. We are under the able leadership, competent
and capable leadership of our president, Mr Tsvangirai. And as we are
speaking, that capable leadership is going to run until 2011 when we then
have a congress."
Meanwhile the MDC national executive was meeting in Bulawayo on Friday ahead
of the so-called 'Big Sunday' where the party will officially mark its 10th
birthday. The Zimbabwe Times understands the National Council was scheduled
to meet on Saturday in Bulawayo before the big event at White City Stadium
A musical gala has been arranged for Saturday night at the stadium in
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city and a citadel of support for the MDC.
International delegates from other political parties, civic society
organisations, diplomats, provincial leaders from across the country, MPs,
senators and party members will converge to celebrate "an illustrious 10
years in which the party rose from humble beginnings to become the largest
political party in the land," Chamisa said.
The 10th year anniversary celebrations are being held under the theme:
'Celebrating a Decade of Courage, Conviction and Leadership.' The Bulawayo
national event is the culmination of similar celebrations held in every
province since February.
Tsvangirai will deliver the key note address.
Chamisa said there were international visitors expected to grace the event.
"We are going to have international visitors from other progressive
political parties, from South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Senegal," Chamisa
told The Zimbabwe Times.
"We have also invited diplomats who are in the country and other political
We have also sent an invitation to Zanu-PF to come because it's a big event.
We are magnanimous as an organisation; we feel that we should invite others
when we are celebrating our own achievements. We have also invited (Simba)
Makoni's party; we have invited (Deputy Prime Minister Arthur) Mutambara's
party. We have also invited Comrade Sikhala, if he has a party. We have said
political parties are invited."
Chamisa said the party will take the occasion of its 10th anniversary
celebrations to salute thousands of its supporters, who have been attacked,
murdered, displaced or had their homes destroyed and property looted in
their fight to bring democracy to Zimbabwe in the past 10 years, he said.
September 12, 2009 By Talkmore Mudonhi TODAY I bring you the details of the sprawling business and property empire
that Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo as mysteriously built over the
years. Although Chombo clearly attempted to hide his empire under shelf companies
and various other guises its sheer size meant that this was ultimately an
exercise in futility. Chombo is currently locked in battle over property with his senior wife,
Miriam Chombo. Dozens of housing stands and other property amassed by Chombo over the years
have been listed under several shelf companies or in the names of his sons in a
desperate bid to cover up the minister’s sprawling empire. The concealment of Chombo’s properties under shelf companies and third
parties was facilitated by Attorney General Johannes Tomana, who masterminded
the transfer of the properties to some of Chombo’s sons and investment
vehicles. Chombo’s letter addressed “to the attention of Mr Tomana” states: “Can the
following assets be transferred to the named persons as follows:- Chombo’s letter also advises Tomana to transfer 100 percent shareholding of
Growfin Investments – his major investment vehicle – into Chombo Family Trust.
He also advises the AG to transfer new Allan Grange Farm to the Chombo Family
Trust. The contents of other documents in our possession bear witness to Chombo’s
incredible wealth: stands in Epworth, Chirundu, Kariba, Ruwa, Chinhoyi, Mutare,
Chegutu, Binga, Victoria Falls, Zvimba, Chitungwiza, Beitbridge, Harare and
Bulawayo. All these stands are mostly commercial, some of them residential, hidden
under investment vehicles Dilcrest Investments, Hutmat Investments, Growfin
Investments, Teamrange Investments, Waywick Investments, Harvest-Net
Investments, Waycorn Investments, Tonewick Investments, Aixland Investments, and
Nedbourne Investments. All the investment vehicles were created by the minister
to hold his properties. Pride of place must go to the more than dozen housing stands accumulated in
Harare’s leafy suburbs, including Stand 61 in Helensvale which is hidden under
Harvest-Net Investments. It is fully paid for and awaiting title deeds. The minister has also acquired residential stands 257 to 260 in Borrowdale
Estates under investment vehicle Waywick Investments, residential stands 251 to
255 again in Crowhill Borrowdale estates under Tonewick Investments, stand 293
in Avondale under Waywick Investments, and stand 365 Beverly in Harare under
Nedbourne Investments. Below is the full list of some of the minister’s properties: Houses ….. Vehicles … Trucks and Trailers … New Allan Grange Farm trucks and
trailers … Tractors … Total 17 tractors Motor bikes Total 7 bikes … More farm equipment Total 3 combine harvesters … More than 1000 pipes and ancillary equipment such as taps, bends, end plugs
reducers … … Residential and commercial
September 12, 2009
By Talkmore Mudonhi
TODAY I bring you the details of the sprawling business and property empire that Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo as mysteriously built over the years.
Although Chombo clearly attempted to hide his empire under shelf companies and various other guises its sheer size meant that this was ultimately an exercise in futility.
Chombo is currently locked in battle over property with his senior wife, Miriam Chombo.
Dozens of housing stands and other property amassed by Chombo over the years have been listed under several shelf companies or in the names of his sons in a desperate bid to cover up the minister’s sprawling empire.
The concealment of Chombo’s properties under shelf companies and third parties was facilitated by Attorney General Johannes Tomana, who masterminded the transfer of the properties to some of Chombo’s sons and investment vehicles.
Chombo’s letter addressed “to the attention of Mr Tomana” states: “Can the following assets be transferred to the named persons as follows:-
Chombo’s letter also advises Tomana to transfer 100 percent shareholding of Growfin Investments – his major investment vehicle – into Chombo Family Trust. He also advises the AG to transfer new Allan Grange Farm to the Chombo Family Trust.
The contents of other documents in our possession bear witness to Chombo’s incredible wealth: stands in Epworth, Chirundu, Kariba, Ruwa, Chinhoyi, Mutare, Chegutu, Binga, Victoria Falls, Zvimba, Chitungwiza, Beitbridge, Harare and Bulawayo.
All these stands are mostly commercial, some of them residential, hidden under investment vehicles Dilcrest Investments, Hutmat Investments, Growfin Investments, Teamrange Investments, Waywick Investments, Harvest-Net Investments, Waycorn Investments, Tonewick Investments, Aixland Investments, and Nedbourne Investments. All the investment vehicles were created by the minister to hold his properties.
Pride of place must go to the more than dozen housing stands accumulated in Harare’s leafy suburbs, including Stand 61 in Helensvale which is hidden under Harvest-Net Investments. It is fully paid for and awaiting title deeds.
The minister has also acquired residential stands 257 to 260 in Borrowdale Estates under investment vehicle Waywick Investments, residential stands 251 to 255 again in Crowhill Borrowdale estates under Tonewick Investments, stand 293 in Avondale under Waywick Investments, and stand 365 Beverly in Harare under Nedbourne Investments.
Below is the full list of some of the minister’s properties:
Trucks and Trailers
New Allan Grange Farm trucks and trailers
Total 17 tractors
Total 7 bikes
More farm equipment
Total 3 combine harvesters
More than 1000 pipes and ancillary equipment such as taps, bends, end plugs reducers
Residential and commercial stands
By Alex Perry Saturday, Sep. 12, 2009
For years, much of the debate over Zimbabwe has been preoccupied with how
much, and how publicly, to criticize its despotic longtime leader Robert
Mugabe. In the past, the West routinely harangued the ailing 85-year-old
dictator, a former liberation hero who has ruled for 29 years. Western
capitals and human rights groups have urged Africa to do the same, believing
that the continent needed to recognize its own problems and sort them out. A
few African leaders, like those in Botswana and Uganda, obliged.
But the few powers with any influence over Mugabe's isolationist regime -
South Africa and the 15-country Southern African Development Community
(SADC) - tended to avoid public attacks. A year ago, albeit after a full
decade of repression, that "quiet diplomacy," to use former South African
President Thabo Mbeki's phrase, finally helped yield a power-sharing deal
between Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF)
and the longtime opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Now the depressing pattern - vitriolic, ineffective attacks from the West;
silent or unhurried action from Africa - has begun to change. Since
February, when MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was installed as Prime Minister,
the focus has shifted from securing a deal to heal Zimbabwe's political
divide, to implementing it.
South Africa's stance has changed too. Mbeki's successor, Jacob Zuma, whose
track record as a mediator includes facilitating peace between South
Africa's Zulus and Xhosa in 1994 and between warring factions in Burundi in
2005, has a blunter style. As Zuma prepared to depart for Zimbabwe last
month, his aide (and secretary-general of his party, the African National
Congress) Gwede Mantashe said Zuma "will be more vocal in terms of what we
see as deviant behavior," adding all sides in Zimbabwe must understand they
did not have the "luxury of adolescent behavior. You must be more mature.
You must engage."
The international community seems to agree: A World Bank delegation visited
Zimbabwe earlier this year to assess whether to resume aid delivery
(verdict: yes, but not too much); the International Monetary Fund has
dispersed $510 million in aid this month; and individual donations amounting
to another $500 million have come in from the U.S., Britain and other
This weekend, a European delegation makes the E.U.'s first official visit to
Zimbabwe since it imposed sanctions on Mugabe and his lieutenants in 2002.
Mugabe welcomed them "with open arms" before the talks began in Harare on
Saturday. But E.U. development commissioner Karel De Gucht, who is leading
the two-day mission with Swedish development minister Gunilla Carlsson, was
careful not to name names before he set off. "There is an urgent need for
all parties to fulfill their obligations," he said. "By doing this, the E.U.
can once again fully re-engage with Zimbabwe and help the country on its
return to normality and prosperity."
But some outside players remain stuck in the same old ruts. A SADC summit
this month in Kinshasa somehow contrived to remove Zimbabwe - the most
pressing issue facing the region - from its agenda, resolving merely that a
committee of three SADC members would "review" progress on power-sharing
between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. Mugabe himself continues to delay the
formation of a unity government, while his top brass seem focused on
squirreling away as much cash as they can for as long as they are able.
Mugabe's foot soldiers continue to harass, imprison and murder MDC
The reality is that a legitimate transfer of power away from Zimbabwe's one
and only leader since full independence was never going to be quick. As a
Western diplomat in Harare says: "We used to say we want elections. But
Tsvangirai says he needs time to build institutions, and he's right. As
we've seen in Zimbabwe, elections with the present institutions are no
guarantee of change." In 2008, Mugabe unleashed a fresh wave of repression
against the MDC after losing a general election, violence that ultimately
prolonged his rule. The fervent hope among the MDC's impatient supporters is
that change will precede the death of the old tyrant, who is visibly frail
these days, but whose demise might still be years away.
Comment The Star (SA), 11 September
Whenever he was taken to task about his boss, former President Thabo
Mbeki's, "quiet diplomacy" on Zimbabwe, former deputy foreign minister Aziz
Pahad used to retort: "There is no such thing as loud diplomacy." The
implication being, of course, that diplomacy is necessarily a rather
stealthy business. Then along came Brendan Huntley, the white South African
who persuaded Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board to grant him refugee
status in Canada on August 27, on the grounds that he had been persecuted by
African criminals and victimised by affirmative action. And that the South
African government was doing nothing to protect him. Suddenly the decibel
levels of South African diplomacy shot off the scale. In Parliament and in
media interviews, South African officials very publicly and vocally
condemned the IRB's decision as an affront, possibly quite deliberate, to
South Africa's reputation.
The Canadian government just issued one statement, stressing its friendly
relations with South Africa, its respect for the efforts the South African
government was making to fight crime and to create an egalitarian society,
and the fact that the IRB was an independent body and so the government
could not influence its decisions. This could have been interpreted as
Ottawa simply distancing itself from the IRB's sentiments about South Africa
but Pretoria took it as meaning that Canada intended doing nothing about the
IRB decision and so stepped up the pressure. South Africa's High
Commissioner to Canada, Abe Nkomo, warned that if the decision were not
reversed, South Africa's relations with Canada - otherwise pretty good and
uneventful - would be badly damaged. A few days later, the Canadian ministry
of citizenship and immigration applied to the Canadian federal court for
leave to apply for the IRB decision to be reversed on several grounds,
notably that the tribunal had based its decision "on an erroneous finding of
fact made in a perverse or capricious manner or without regard to the
material before it".
Nkomo saw this as the result of South Africa's pressure and said, "They
eventually got our point." If that is so, then the South African
government's very vocal and quite aggressive intervention would represent a
significant victory for "loud diplomacy", for "diplomacy conducted with a
loudhailer", and all those other pejoratives which the government has
employed to describe the kind of diplomacy that it refuses to employ in
Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, back on the ranch, President Jacob Zuma attended a
summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) this week in
Kinshasa, where Zimbabwe was very much on the agenda. Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - plus all the
donors and investors waiting to pour money into Zimbabwe, and indeed all
people of sane mind and reasonable character - were hoping that the SADC
would, just this once, do the right thing.
It was hoped that it would come out and stipulate, publicly and explicitly,
the many things which President Robert Mugabe must immediately do to keep
his commitments under the unity government, instead of abusing his executive
powers to make unilateral appointments and arrest MDC MPs etc. Instead the
SADC leaders said nothing about that and backed Mugabe's sole grievance by
calling on Western governments to lift targeted sanctions against Mugabe and
his cronies. Even outgoing SADC chairman Zuma, of whom Zimbabwe hopes much,
told journalists the SADC leaders had placed no conditions on the lifting of
sanctions, even though Western governments have made it clear that sanctions
will only go once Mugabe implements his commitments. The summit effectively
delegated the MDC complaints to the troika of the SADC's security organ to
resolve. Perhaps the troika will finally confront Mugabe. But it is hard to
see why it will when the full summit could not. And meanwhile the SADC
leaders have given Mugabe another political boost back home, as the Zanu
PF-controlled state media crowed about his victory over the MDC. In Ottawa,
an apparent victory for loud diplomacy. In Kinshasa yet another apparent
defeat for quiet diplomacy.
Dear Family and Friends,
Every day, on every news bulletin, someone in the leadership ranks of
Zanu PF demands that sanctions on Zimbabwe must be removed.
We grow weary of their perpetual whining because everyone knows that
the sanctions are not on 10 million Zimbabweans but on less than 300
senior Zanu PF officials. The 'sanctions' as they call them have
frozen foreign bank accounts and prevented foreign travel of less
than 300 men and women who took Zimbabwe from being a thriving,
exporting nation to a destitute beggar's bowl in less than nine
Ninety nine percent of ordinary Zimbabwean do not have foreign bank
accounts and have never been on an aeroplane, let alone to a foreign
country, and so it is hard to feel empathy for the less than 300
people in Zanu PF who are on the targeted sanctions list.
Sanctions! What sanctions? is the question ordinary Zimbabweans ask
as they pay bills and buy groceries with American dollars and eat
food, even everyday basics like maize meal, that has had to be
Sanctions! What sanctions we ask as we drive into filling stations
and buy imported petrol and diesel and pay in US dollars or South
African Rand and not even in our own money.
Sanctions! What sanctions when international organizations are
providing the money to pay our teachers, nurses, doctors and civil
Sanctions! What sanctions when the IMF are again lending money to
Zimbabwe and the World Bank are providing financial support to the
Sanctions! What sanctions when the country is awash with
international organisations who are feeding our hungry, treating our
sick, looking after our orphans and vulnerable children, providing
chemicals to treat our water and even fixing our blocked toilets.
They are everywhere: Unicef, UNDP, WFP, Care, Concern, Goal and so
And now, to add to the tired litany of less than 300 Zanu PF men and
women in a country of 10 million, SADC have called for "sanctions" to
How very disappointing that SADC has again chosen to stand up for the
perpetrators who crippled our land and not the people who have been
helpless victims for a decade.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy 12 Sept 2009.
Copyright cathy buckle
September 12, 2009
Jan Raath in Harare
It's a rare mix that makes a good cricket commentator: erudite descriptions
of action, comprehensive knowledge of great players, faultless recall of
statistics, and needle-sharp sense of timing and judgment.
Zimbabwean-born Dean du Plessis, 32, has all these attributes and has been
delivering commentaries on matches for nine years. But he has never seen a
game in his life, because his green eyes are glass. He was born blind, with
tumours on his retinas.
That has been no obstacle to him sharing the commentary box in Tests,
one-day and Twenty20 tournaments involving all the Test-playing nations in
worldwide radio broadcasts.
He has worked with the likes of Tony Cozier (who pronounced Dean's delivery
"very smooth"), Geoffrey Boycott ("the nastiest person I have ever met"),
Ravi Shastri and Australia's former spin bowler Bruce Yardley, who himself
lost an eye. In 2004 the two became the first team to deliver a commentary
with a single eye between them.
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Mr du Plessis's accentuated sense of hearing makes up for being sightless.
Wired up to the stump microphones, he can tell who is bowling from the
footfalls and grunts, a medium or fast delivery by the length of time
between the bowler's foot coming down and the impact of the ball on the
pitch. He picks up a yorker from the sound of the bat ramming down on the
ball, can tell if a ball is on the off or on-side, and when it's hit a pad
rather than bat. When the wicketkeeper's voice goes flat, it tells him a
draw is in the offing.
He can't play the role in the commentary box of the anchor - who delivers
the ball-by-ball passage, who can see the silently raised finger of the
umpire and the unspoken redeployment of fielders. Mr du Plessis can only
tell from the crowd noise whether a ball has been gathered in a fielder's
hands, or spilled. "I have to work with the anchor," he said. "I am the guy
who supplies, well, the colour."
Last month Bangladesh were playing a gradually improving Zimbabwe when Mr du
Plessis heard that the visitors' captain had sent a fielder far down to fine
leg after the Zimbabwe batsman Charles Coventry had smashed a four. "A sixth
sense told me it was a double bluff," Dean said.
"He wanted to give the impression that the next ball would be a bumper, to
make Coventry use a hook shot." As he suspected, the next Bangladeshi ball
was a sneaky yorker.
"The thing about Dean is the intuition," said Andy Pycroft, the Zimbabwean
opening batsman from 1979 to 2001. "The public love to listen to him. If he
has the right person at anchor to support him he is brilliant." Mr du
Plessis hated the "blind cricket" he was taught to play with a
plastic-wrapped volleyball at the blind school he attended. One day, 14 and
bored, he tuned the radio in to a station devoted to ball-by-ball
commentaries. It was to change his life: "There was a phenomenal noise in
the background, 80,000 people in a stadium in India, people roaring. I
realised it was cricket. I was fascinated."
Dean pushed his way into the commentary box at Harare Sports Club in 2001
and was allowed to try out with the microphone. He never looked back.